Other treatments for ovarian cancer

As well as the standard treatment of surgery and chemotherapy, other treatments for ovarian cancer may be available:

You can download our leaflet for more information about other treatments for ovarian cancer.

Targeted therapy

Cancer results from genetic changes in the cells that make up our tissues.  Targeted therapy is designed to respond to these specific changes.

Because targeted treatment focuses on the cancer cells, it does not affect normal cells as much as chemotherapy.  This means side effects are usually less severe.  Also, targeted therapy focuses on specific features underlying the type of cancer a patient has.  It therefore has the potential to be very effective.

Most targeted treatments for ovarian cancer are still at an experimental stage. 

You may be able to receive targeted therapy as part of a clinical trial if your cancer has recurred or if it has proved resistant to other treatments.

Hormone therapy

Some ovarian cancers require the female hormone oestrogen to grow.  Hormone therapy uses drugs to block the production of  oestrogen or to prevent oestrogen from getting to cancer cells.

Tamoxifen is an example of a hormone therapy drug.  It is most commonly used in breast cancer but can also be used to treat sex cord stromal ovarian cancer (a rare type of ovarian cancer), and some kinds of epithelial ovarian cancer.  It is not a standard approach to treating ovarian cancer.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies include aromatherapy, reflexology, massage therapy, acupuncture, psychological therapies and homeopathic preparations.

These therapies can be used alongside chemotherapy but should not be used in place of chemotherapy and surgery. 

They may be helpful to relieve the symptoms of disease and the side effects of treatment and may improve the physical and emotional well-being of patients.

If you’re thinking of using complementary therapies, you should seek professional advice and tell your oncologist.  You should also make sure you use a qualified, certified or registered practitioner and that you are fully informed about the treatment and any likely side-effects before you start.

As the NHS offers complementary therapies, your GP or oncologist may be able to arrange them for you.  In some cases these can also be offered to those caring for you.